Dera e Gjomarkut (Gjomarkaj Porte)

After the death of George Kastrioti Skanderbeg, in the year 1468, in Lezhe, the Turks invaded Albania. The only castle still left in the hands of the Venetians and Albanians was the castle of Shkodra called “Rozafa”. The defenders of Shkodra were the famous Venetian Captain Antonio Loredano and Albanian Prince Leke Dukagjini. In 1479 the city of Shkodra was taken by the Turks. With the fall of Shkodra, all of Albania was conquered by the Ottomans.

At that time all of Albania was Christian (Roman Catholics). With the occupation of Albania by the Turkish (Ottoman) empire, trouble began for the Albanians. A large mass of the people, especially from the south, took the routes of emigration. The first to Greece and then from Greece to Italy where, still today, there is a large Albanian colony, especially in Calabria, Puglia and Sicily, preserving language and traditions. The Albanians in Italy are called Arberesh.

In Albania, the Turks began to dominate with fire and sword. Gradually most of the Albanians began to renounce the Catholic faith (religion) and embrace Islam, except in the mountain regions of the North with Mirdita at the head and those of the South in Himara. Those in the north are Roman Apostolic Catholics and those in the South are Orthodox Schismatics.

The Mirdites have never lowered the standard of the Catholic religion, and of their nationality, even within the framework of the Turkish Empire.

The princes of Mirdita also known as “Kapidan of Mirdita” are believed to be descendants of a Dukagjini (Prince of the Dukagjini), precisely from Nikoll Pal Stefan Dukagjini, contemporary of Skanderbeg. History teaches us of the first leader of Mirdita with the name Gjon Marku (Mark Kole Pal Stefan Dukagjini) from which his dynasty is called “Dera e Gjomarkut”. The headquarters of Gjon Marku is in Orosh, the capital of Mirdita.

While the Mirdites sought the protection of the Kings of Naples, in 1502 they also turned to Carlo Emanuele of Savoy, but not being able to receive help from them they recognized the sovereignty of the Sultan. Turkey, unable to rule Mirdita by force, was constrained to enter into an agreement with Gjon Marku. The agreement was based on these basic points:

  1. Turkey will be satisfied with Mirdita recognizing the nominal authority of the Sultan.
  2. The right of juridical, civil and religious liberties (Roman Catholic apostolic) is recognized (by the Sultan) in Mirdita.
  3. Mirdita will be excluded from all state taxes. They will not pay taxes or fees.
  4. Mirdita is governed by the “Kanun” (Kanuni of Lek Dukagjini), its natural and traditional law administered by the traditional leaders of the area and defined by Gjon Marku, who recognizes himself as the supreme authority of Kanun.
  5. Mirdita has to send volunteer soldiers in case of war for a fixed period. These soldiers will be commanded by the traditional leaders of the area (region) and will be commanded by the Kapitan or its Prince. The Mirdita army will go to war wearing their national costume.

This agreement gave Mirdita peace and unity. Gjon Marku gathered the villages and divided them into Bajrak (flags) creating three Bajrak:

  • The first was Orosh: the county seat or capital
  • The second Bajrak was Spac
  • The third was Kusheneni

Thus Mirdita became a political entity headed by “Dera e Gjomarkut” (The Door of Gjon Marku). The head of the Dera e Gjomarku and the head of Mirdita saved the situation. Gjon Marku’s fame goes beyond the borders of Mirdita and also resonated abroad. Gjon Marku left a son, Marka Gjoni, who showed his distinguishment through his missions.

After the death of George Kastrioti Skanderbeg, in the year 1468, in Lezhe, the Turks invaded Albania. The only castle still left in the hands of the Venetians and Albanians was the castle of Shkodra called “Rozafa”. The defenders of Shkodra were the famous Venetian Captain Antonio Loredano and Albanian Prince Leke Dukagjini. In 1479 the city of Shkodra was taken by the Turks. With the fall of Shkodra, all of Albania was conquered by the Ottomans.

At that time all of Albania was Christian (Roman Catholics). With the occupation of Albania by the Turkish (Ottoman) empire, trouble began for the Albanians. A large mass of the people, especially from the south, took the routes of emigration. The first to Greece and then from Greece to Italy where, still today, there is a large Albanian colony, especially in Calabria, Puglia and Sicily, preserving language and traditions. The Albanians in Italy are called Arberesh.

In Albania, the Turks began to dominate with fire and sword. Gradually most of the Albanians began to renounce the Catholic faith (religion) and embrace Islam, except in the mountain regions of the North with Mirdita at the head and those of the South in Himara. Those in the north are Roman Apostolic Catholics and those in the South are Orthodox Schismatics.

The Mirdites have never lowered the standard of the Catholic religion, and of their nationality, even within the framework of the Turkish Empire.

The princes of Mirdita also known as “Kapidan of Mirdita” are believed to be descendants of a Dukagjini (Prince of the Dukagjini), precisely from Nikoll Pal Stefan Dukagjini, contemporary of Skanderbeg. History teaches us of the first leader of Mirdita with the name Gjon Marku (Mark Kole Pal Stefan Dukagjini), from which his dynasty is called “Dera e Gjomarkut”. The headquarters of Gjon Marku is in Orosh, the capital of Mirdita.

While the Mirdites sought the protection of the Kings of Naples, in 1502 they also turned to Carlo Emanuele of Savoy, but not being able to receive help from them they recognized the sovereignty of the Sultan. Turkey, unable to rule Mirdita by force, was constrained to enter into an agreement with Gjon Marku. The agreement was based on these basic points:

  1. Turkey will be satisfied with Mirdita recognizing the nominal authority of the Sultan.
  2. The right of juridical, civil and religious liberties (Roman Catholic apostolic) is recognized (by the Sultan) in Mirdita.
  3. Mirdita will be excluded from all state taxes. They will not pay taxes or fees.
  4. Mirdita is governed by the “Kanun” (Kanuni of Lek Dukagjini), its natural and traditional law administered by the traditional leaders of the area and defined by Gjon Marku, who recognizes himself as the supreme authority of Kanun.
  5. Mirdita has to send volunteer soldiers in case of war for a fixed period. These soldiers will be commanded by the traditional leaders of the area (region) and will be commanded by the Kapitan or its Prince. The Mirdita army will go to war wearing their national costume.

This agreement gave Mirdita peace and unity. Gjon Marku gathered the villages and divided them into Bajrak (flags) creating three Bajrak:

  • The first was Orosh: the county seat or capital
  • The second Bajrak was Spac
  • The third was Kusheneni

Thus Mirdita became a political entity headed by “Dera e Gjomarkut” (The Porte of Gjon Marku).

The head of the Dera e Gjomarku, as the head of Mirdita, resolved the situation. Gjon Marku’s fame goes beyond the borders of Mirdita and also resonated abroad. Gjon Marku left a son, Marka Gjoni, who showed his distinguishment through his missions.

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